Last month I wrote about part one of the short film Flattered. In the film, a married mother of one named Tara crosses paths with someone she was in a past relationship with. Although her ex, Brad, realized she was married with a kid, it didn’t stop him from flirting. And despite being with her girlfriends and her child at a kids’ gym, Tara was flattered enough to accept an invitation to lunch, and possibly dinner a few days later.
In my post I shared five things she could have considered to prevent that situation from getting to the point it did (bringing her marriage to the brink). Below is part two of Flattered, from Marriage Pressure Points. Part two fills in the gaps after the cliff-hanging first installment, with Tara’s husband apparently discovering what has happened. Check out the video below, then read my ways to handle it when the trust in your relationship is broken.
Wow! My wife and I never experienced anything like that in our relationship. But I did make the mistake of seeing an ex in a restaurant and spending a little too much time reconnecting while my wife went to be seated with some friends we were meeting. That was tough on us at the time.
Some of the advice I’m giving below was how my wife handled that incident, and how Tara and her husband, Nate, handled their broken trust in the film.
Here is how to deal when the trust in your relationship has been broken:
1. Be honest and show total transparency. When Tara’s husband, Nate, questioned her about the situation, he already knew some details of what happened. However, he wanted to know more, and I believe he deserved to know more. Slowly but surely Tara began to reveal what happened, how it happened, where it happened, and even why she thinks it happened.
2. Reveal your true thoughts and feelings. This is tough and even scary, as Tara said, but it is a must to move forward. My wife and I had a breakthrough like this while on a marriage retreat. We both shared some things with one another we had never shared before that could have hurt the other person. The results were amazing, and our relationship rose to a completely new level. Honestly, our relationship needed this to happen.
3. Don’t walk out prematurely. Nate had heard enough of what happened and was ready to go. Fortunately, he didn’t. One of the first rules in our marriage was that we don’t walk out on each other during arguments. I’ll be honest and say we’ve broken the rule a few times, but quickly returned to the room.
4. Be as calm as possible, and take time to patiently listen. After deciding not to leave and calming down, Nate began to patiently listen. What he heard was difficult to take, but he was patient with Tara and did his very best to listen without judgment. Without patience, the situation would have only gotten worse.
5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This part of their conversation turned the tide for Tara. When Nate asked her to imagine if he did something similar, she realized how hurt she would be and how big of a mistake her decision was. This broke any final barriers they had about the situation, and put Tara at a different level of understanding. Hopefully, she will be on guard to prevent anything similar from happening in the future.
6. Don’t let anything or anybody come between the two of you. Nate said to Tara, “Babe, no one is allowed to come in here, and ruin this.” This was one of the most powerful points in the film because it is almost word-for-word a promise I made to my wife when we were getting married. I had done a lot to breach her trust while dating, and she was concerned it would carry over into marriage. My promise to her was that nothing or no one outside of our relationship would come between our relationship. If we had problems they would originate with us; I wouldn’t allow any outside influences to cause problems within.
7. Be forgiving. All of the above is useless if you don’t ultimately forgive your spouse or significant other for what they’ve done. This is a conscious choice you can make. Yes, you may never forget what happened, but you can forgive them and not hold it against them or your relationship going forward. By the end of the conversation, Nate had moved to the point of forgiveness. He may have never reached that point had the advice in the bullet points above not been taken.
Could Tara or Nate have handled this any different, and received better results?
More on relationships from Jackie:
Photo and video credits: Marriage Pressure Points